Democracy, Human Rights and Governance
In 2012 Timor-Leste conducted free, fair and transparent presidential and parliamentary elections, making a total of seven successful elections since independence. USAID supported this year's elections through the training and deployment of independent local and international elections observers. Because the country's institutions and systems remain weak, USAID continues to provide targeted assistance to promote stability and to further consolidate democracy and good governance.
USAID works with Timor-Leste to strengthen is foundations for more transparent and accountable democratic governance by: supporting the development of the formal justice system and broadening access to it; improving government performance and responsiveness; building constituency representation; and strengthening and institutionalizing peace building. These efforts have been recognized and supported by other donors. USAID's anti-corruption project is funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the New Zealand Aid Programme has contributed funding to USAID's peace building project.
Economic Growth and Trade
Agriculture makes up 30 percent of Timor-Leste's non-petroleum GDP and is the primary source of livelihood for 80 percent of the population, half of whom live at subsistence levels. A lack of non-farm employment opportunities contributes to high rates of extreme poverty, food insecurity and chronic malnutrition.
USAID assists Timor-Leste in promoting broad-based economic growth and extending economic opportunity to all segments of Timorese society, including women and those living in remote communities. USAID helps small farmers expand their agricultural enterprises and build a business-friendly environment where small- and medium-sized enterprises can flourish. In recognition of the value and success of USAID's activities, ConocoPhillips and the New Zealand Aid Programme have added significant funding to two of USAID's economic growth projects.
USAID works with Timor-Leste to reduce the country's vulnerability to climate change, helping coastal communities better manage their resources and develop sustainable livelihood alternatives. USAID seeks to improve the quality of climate change-related data. USAID's activities include partnerships with the United States National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration and Conservation International as part of the Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP). CTSP is a regional program that helps six participating countries monitor and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
To enable citizens to acquire more advanced skills, USAID works with the government on two education approaches: one pioneers new ways to keep children in school longer; the other provides scholarships for degrees and technical training in priority areas.
Health indicators are improving in Timor-Leste but are still among the worst in the world, especially for women and children. High maternal and child mortality rates persist. Low vaccination coverage, neo-natal complications, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria are compounded by high rates of malnutrition and contribute to high under-5 mortality rates. However, the under-5 mortality rate has been dropping steadily. UNICEF's 2011 Child Mortality Report states that the decline in the under-5 mortality rate is one of the biggest in the world between 1990 and 2010.
USAID works with Timor-Leste's Ministry of Health and a range of partners to address these serious health issues in alignment with the Ministry's Strategic Plan 2011–2030. USAID helps expand and enhance the quality of maternal and child health services, especially through the Ministry's district health delivery system. One health project, funded by MCC, boosts child immunization rates. USAID also supports the Ministry by expanding the reach of family planning and reproductive health services. The Australian Agency for International Development has recognized the effectiveness of USAID's health activities and has made a significant contribution to USAID's health program.
Highlights of Our Work
- USAID's justice support project has provided direct legal aid to more than 6,000 Timorese citizens, 37 percent of them women, and resolved about 2,000 legal cases, significantly reducing the case backlog of the formal justice system.
- USAID's property rights project documented more than 50,000 urban land claims before being transferred to the Government of Timor-Leste. Now claimants can receive the country's first-ever land certificates.
- USAID-supported health programs have helped Timor-Leste achieve one of the biggest reductions worldwide in under-5 mortality between 1990 and 2010. USAID continues to help tackle this serious problem.
Last updated: May 10, 2013